April 30, 2020

Film Skool Rejekts "Midnight Movie" (Original Cut, 2008)

I received a trusty notification from Bandcamp that Cyrus The Great had re-released Midnight Movie on his channel and it brought me back to the late 2000s when the Film Skool Rejekts were releasing a ton of content. It started with DJ Prince passing me a copy of The Workprint, which put Future Joyner, Sheen Phillips and Cyrus the Great on my list of artists to watch. After that, they had Music For The B*tches, their mixtape tribute to EPMD in Mind Ya Business and an EP called Blood Circus, all of which pushed the envelope on creativity, witty wordplay and visual rap. While The Workprint is still my favorite project from them, I appreciate what each project brought to the table and they obviously helped Joyner pay his dues and become the artist that he is today. Let's look back on Midnight Movie - see if you can follow the concept & appreciate their artistic vision...

April 30, 2020

J.PERIOD "Queensbridge Finest" (The Live Mixtape)

J.PERIOD presents his latest release in his Live Mixtape series; a tribute to Nas and Mobb Deep with "Queensbridge Finest." The mixtape was recorded live on April 27, 2020 and has now been released for the world to stream and/or download. The mix is one of a handful of mixes J.PERIOD has released in recent months, all very rich with classics, remixes and live blends. Dig into it below...

April 30, 2020

R.I.P. Stezo + "The Untold Story of Stezo" + HHC, 1989

Stezo, pronounced 'Steezo', coined the nickname through a language he invented with his childhood friends in their Brooklyn schooldays. Hence Steve became 'Stezo' and his friends became 'Dezo' or 'Wezo'.... Stezo became part of the 'hardcore posse' ... but after getting robbed himself, Stezo thought it wise to 'cut the crap' and go for gold the 'real way'. Moving to Connecticut with his family, Stezo realized "if I wanted to get to the top I'd have to earn it and not just take it!" Stezo had always been part of the hip-hop scene, from breaking to popping, deejaying to rapping. It was when he was imitating EPMD's dancers at a show, only doing it better, that Stezo hooked up with them and wrote "The Steve Martin" song for EPMD's "Strictly Business" album. "When everybody was into the wild style of yelling into the mic, I would be doing the slow rap. I could have been the first one to be smooth rapping but everybody told me not to do it.... After hanging out with EPMD for a year, Stezo realized it was time to make a break and go for his own success. "I figured that I had enough talent to go on the stage myself," he says, "but EPMD are still my boys!" Going solo also meant a slight change of style.... "I decided to put a little more liveliness into my rap to distinguish myself... it's a bit like New Edition and Bobby Brown." Getting signed to Sleeping Bag with a little help from EPMD, Stezo has proven his talent with his first 12-inch, 'To The Max' ("I'm really going for mine, that's what it means!"), and a debut LP called 'Crazy Noise'.... Now in New Haven, Connecticut, Stezo is even more ambitious to make it against the New York competition. "There's still that New York spirit in me," he says. "It's just something I have to do and I'm gonna do it right!" - HHC, 1989.

The documentary below, "The Untold Story of Stezo," chronicles his full career and impact on hip-hop culture. It is written, directed and produced by James "Kraze" Billings for King of Content Productions. Update 1/29: Tragically, I've received news that Stezo passed away tonight! The news was shared via Chuck Chillout's Instagram, along with his personal message: "Damn this one hurts big time. RIP to my dude the rapper STEZO. I’ve know this brother since 1986, this 2020 year sucks big time rest well my friend u will be miss." I'm reposting this to the front of my blog for those of you who may not have read this full post prior to today's news. Rest In Peace, Stezo. 2020 sucks!

The full article in Hip Hop Connection is available below...

April 29, 2020

DV One x Hex Murda "Sean Price: Immortal" (Mix)

DV One from the Rock Steady Crew and Detroit's inimitable Hex Murda have created this dedication mix entitled Immortal for their mutual friend and beloved eMCee Sean Price who passed in 2015. Immortal is an hour-long mix of some Ruck classics, soundbites, and lots of drops from his family and peers. In the words of Rakaa, "Sean Price is a true inspiration because he kept getting better and better while carving out his own lane through this jungle. The animals and trees were no match. Hip Hop is now a little bit less fun, and we'll all need to pitch in to supplement the level of realness that he blessed the scene with. Incredible artist and person, so I have no doubt that his soul is at peace. It's just surreal. Strength and prayers to his family." Rest In Peace, Sean P aka You the worst aka the opposite of a fucking Duran Duran song. Listen to the mix below or click HERE to download. 

April 29, 2020

Stove God Cooks "Reasonable Drought" (Album Stream)

Some might remember Stove God Cook$ under his first stage name, Aaron Cook$, and he delivered a standout performance in the BET Jams Flipmode Meets The Conglomerate cipher from 2018. Fans of Griselda may also know of Cook$ from his guest feature on Conway The Machine’s “Ghost Musik” that also featured Conglomerate honcho Busta Rhymes with production from Nottz. Over the past few years, Cook$ has perfected his craft, culminating in his proper debut album. Produced entirely by Roc Marci, Reasonable Drought cleverly plays on the title of Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, although that’s where the similarity ends. Coke rap reached its zenith via the capable hands and descriptive lyrics of Pusha-T, but Cook$ breathes new life in the subgenre by utilizing his gift for melody and stirring vocals. However, he isn’t a Max B retread. Instead, Cook$ employs a relentless, aggressive flow that is highlighted from the onset with the album’s opener “Rolls Royce Brake Lights,” and the hook is pure ear candy. Cook$ doesn’t ease up with the following “Bread Of Life,” an early highlight, and Marc’s track is as menacing as Cook$’s hungry rhyme delivery. On lead single “Break The Pyrex,” Marc employs his familiar pimp-strut funk for the track and Cook$ matches the production with another memorable singing hook before diving in headfirst lyrically. Cook$ follows the strong track with the equally dope “Jim Boeheim,” named after the Syracuse University’s men’s basketball coach. Marciano’s track sets the tone but Cook$ elevates the listening experience by sheer will alone. - HipHopWired. I've gotta sit with this one some more - I know it works, but is it for me? I'm still on the fence - I'm listening though! Stay tuned for more.

April 28, 2020

Big Pun "Pre-Trial Motion" (Album Sampler, 1998)

"The story goes like this: Loud Records signs Big Pun, a talented, but relatively unknown MC. Two years before releasing Punisher's first LP Capital Punishment, Buddha and his Street Teams across the country went to work. They stuck with grassroots strategies (stenciling, sniping, sample tapes, etc.) and didn't quit promoting until after the record dropped. The result: Right out the box, Big Pun debuts at number five. Capital Punishment remained in the top fifteen for nine weeks and has sold approximately 2,000,000 albums to date (April, 1999 - Vibe) - all with no initial video and little radio airplay." Buddha was part of SRC's (Street Records Corporation) NYC Street Team, which set the bar for Guerrilla marketing at the time, and was created by Loud Records' Steve Rifkind. The mention of sample tapes above refers to Big Pun's promotional cassette sampler, Pre-Trial Motion, which was released in 1998 ahead of Capital Punishment and partially mixed the tracks "Twinz" with Fat Joe, "Toe 2 Toe" with Cuban Link, "Off The Books" with The Beatnuts, Wishful Thinking with B-Real, Fat Joe & Kool G Rap; "Dreamshatter," "Firewater" with Fat Joe, Raekwon & Armageddon, "You Ain't a Killer" and "Still Not A Player." Big Pun also had the classic promotional "Big Punisher" condoms, which was great marketing as well. Capital Punishment was released on this day in 1998 with production from The Beatnuts, Rockwilder, Knobody, Domingo, L.E.S., Minnesota, RZA, Showbiz and more. We lost Pun too early and this undeniable classic is a reminder to celebrate his life and legacy as one of the greatest lyricists and one of the funniest, most charismatic artists to ever bless the mic. Listen to the Pre-Trial Motion sampler and hit the tags for more... Remember Pun!

An original Big Punisher promotional condom if you've never seen one...

April 27, 2020

The Notorious B.I.G. "Bastard Child" (Prod. by Statik Selektah)

Statik Selektah sent out "Bastard Child" ahead of his IG Live tonight, a track that features TWO unreleased verses from The Notorious B.I.G. over Statik’s own soulful production. The verses are alleged to trace back to creative director Joe Lyons, who posted to his Instagram, "I’m excited to announce that on May 14th, here on IG Live, I will be doing a session of my most rare Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G. demos and freestyles. I have one of the most complete collections of his recordings that exists and I will be playing early versions that many people have never heard before. If you are a huge fan and collector of Biggie’s music you likely have heard most of these tracks, but tune in for a trip down memory lane to the early 90s when NYC hip-hop ruled." Statik also blasted off a version of "Mo Money Mo Problems" from the original studio session, which included a dope verse from Jadakiss, as well as unreleased tracks from Nas, Sean Price, Big Pun and lots more! A true DJ/producer and student of the game, it's no surprise Statik has been holding down IG for the real heads during this quarantine. Pick up a copy of his latest merch, "Statik Selektah was my DJ for the 2020 quarantine," on his Showoff website! Hit the tags for more from Statik Selektah, and stay tuned for his next album on Mass Appeal, The Balancing Act. R.I.P. Biggie!!

April 26, 2020

DJ Jazzywhut Presents "Back To '92 Remixes" (Mix)

Peace to DJ Jazzywhut for his latest mix: Back To '92 Remixes. He adds, "1992 is still one of the dopest years in Hip-Hop for me. It was always exciting to pick up a 12" or cassingle/CD single back in the 90's because you almost always got a dope remix and often a B-Side track. I think all of these remixes and tracks (some 28 years on) speak for themselves but this was a real pleasure to put together and bought back mountains of memories. Dedicated to all of the true heads Worldwide. Bump it loud!" The mix includes tracks from Positive K, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, MC Serch, Zhigge, Das EFX, Main Source, Lord Finesse, Nas, House of Pain, Cypress Hill and a whole lot more.

April 25, 2020

Mobb Deep "The Infamous" (25th Anniversary)

"The Infamous", Mobb Deep's spooky second set, ships April 25, and on it group members Havoc and Prodigy sound cold like an Eskimo's toes, insane, pained, and badder than turned milk. The pair's hard-edged rhymes form a series of technicolor postcards from the hell they roam - throughout New York's Queensbridge Housing Projects - packing high-caliber chrome, "It's similar to Vietnam," says Prodigy on "Survival Of The Fittest," which issues some phat, frisky fierceness. Over more blunted bounce that is cut with cool, cinematic clatter, the duo takes listeners into their wild world - a sphere where cash rules, paranoia pervades, homies die, and moms cry. As they do whatever to maintain or - even more - reign as swanky ghetto celebs, they wreak more havoc than a cyclone. Their credo: protect ya' neck, stand by your crew, and get the next man before he gets you. The dynamic Mobb Deep duo sound captivatingly ill on "The Infamous." (Billboard 4/8/95). For me, I've spoken on Mobb Deep and The Infamous album numerous times over the years (reviews, promo, articles, mixes, etc), but celebrating it's 25th Anniversary without Prodigy here in the physical just feels different, ya know? Much love to Havoc who has been holding it down, keeping P's legacy strong and continuing to celebrate the life one of our culture's greatest eMCees. For a full summary greater than any/all the posts I could ever do on the album, check Dart Adam's 25th Anniversary Retrospective on Mobb Deep's The Infamous, HERE. Enjoy the original promo stickers/lyrics from the LP above and below. 4/25/95: 25 years passed in an instant! R.I.P., Prodigy! 

April 24, 2020

Da King & I "Video Explosion" (Interview, 1993)

Da King & I are DJ Majesty and Izzy Ice. In 1993, they were interviewed by Pat and DJ Finesse on Video Explosion, where they gave background on the group - specifically, Majesty working with Howie Tee and Chubb Rock in the early days, their first single "Soul Man" back in 1988, as well as Majesty's role in the movie Juice; the meaning of their single "Flip Da Script;" Rowdy Records and their debut album "Contemporary Jeep Music." To end the interview on a positive note, Majesty and Izzy share: "If you're in school, I advise you not to drop out of school just to purse a rap career or any career in the music industry. Finish your education and stay close to your family too - that's number 1" ... and musically, "Make sure you're on your own vibe, don't try to emulate whatever is out there ... Do it yourself so that people can wanna be like you!" Their debut was soulful and jazzy hip-hop with great storytelling and original flows. It was largely slept-on but remains a cult-classic to those of us in the know, so check out the full interview below and hit the tags for videos, reviews and more. Izzy has some new music out - he can be followed here and Majesty is here.

Update: I was asked what my favorite tracks are from the album - for starters, Tears is my favorite cut on the project and the 12", which included the Darp Vibe Mix. Then "Krak Da Weazel," "Mr. All That," and both the original "Flip Da Script" and the DJ Premier remix. Grab the 12" releases as well as the album and the 7" or 12" of Soul Man while you're at it. One of their early adverts is below...

April 24, 2020

Twit One "Folie a deux" (Instrumentals)

Twit One is a producer and DJ from Cologne, Germany. He is one half of Flatpocket, of which I am already a big fan! Their projects Dispo II Dispo and Geldfundphantasyen, as well as Twit One's solo instrumental release Hay Luv, were all really solid projects. I couldn't get a good translation of the album description, but I think the title project means "madness for two," is that right? Either way, the instrumental version to this album features a lot of jazzy keys and mellow vibes, listen below...

April 23, 2020

Rest In Peace, Vice Verses (2/1/74 - 4/17/20)

"Jason “Vice Verses” Williams passed away last week and an entire, worldwide community is mourning…and celebrating. Celebrating the life of someone whose flowers will come attached with words like pioneer, icon and legend. And rightfully so. An accolade-laden lyricist, Vice served as one of the hosts of the legendary End Of The Weak (EOW), New York City’s longest running weekly open-mic, and a stomping ground for a litany of Hip Hop heavies. Vice was also creator of the EOW MC Challenge, a challenge that should absolutely serve as a blueprint for those seeking to duel lyrically." - Danielle Harling. I was very fortunate to have crossed paths with Vice Verses numerous times at EOW over the years - shows with Eternia, Invincible, Magestik Legend, Hasan Salaam, Majesty (R.I.P.); at Rock Steady Anniversaries, Fat Beats and all-around NYC. We truly lost a good one; a forward-thinking man who was about the music, the culture and shining light on others. My prayers go out to his family, friends and anyone that knew Vice Verses personally and professionally. Donations for the Vice Verses Memorial Fund are currently being accepted through GoFundMe, please consider showing your full support. Rest in Peace, Vice Verses. Art by Biancadoesnyc

April 23, 2020

Jaguar Skills "Hip-Hop Time Bomb: 1991" (Mix)

This is Jaguar Skills' Hip-Hop Time Bomb, representing the year 1991. 60 minutes of of joints from '91, along with dope vocal chops and original samples blended in throughout the mix. A nice complement to the Classic Material mixes that Chris Read did back in 2010-2011. Jaguar's '91 edition features tracks from A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, Main Source, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Nice & Smooth, Black Sheep, Fresh Prince & Jazzy Jeff, Heavy D, 3rd Bass, Leaders Of The Underground, Brand Nubian, Son of Bezerk, EPMD, De La Soul, MC Lyte, Ed OG & The Bulldogs, Scarface, Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Geto Boys, Naughty By Nature, Boogie Down Productions, KMD, K-Solo, Intelligent Hoodlum, Tim Dog, N.W.A., and more.

April 22, 2020

Take It Personal Podcast "MF Doom Tribute"

"Episode 63 is our very long, but very necessary MF DOOM tribute. It clocks in at 6+ hours and features over 130 classics and collabos. It also features 7 special guests who stopped by to share stories as well as navigate you through our DOOM tribute. We're going to remember these times for years to come. What we listened to or watched during the infamous quarantine. There have been some amazing hip-hop moments because of it, specifically Club Quarantine with D-Nice and most recently the DJ Premier vs. RZA live battle. We hope this masterpiece will be up there with them. Special shouts to Prime Mister Pete Nice, Kurious Jorge, Bobbito aka Kool Bob Love, Lord Sear, Jake One, Slug and MC Serch for being a part of this." - Philaflava, Take It Personal Podcast.

April 21, 2020

Knowledge The Pirate "Family Jewels" (Album Stream)

Knowledge The Pirate is back! Roc Marci’s righthand man has been quietly building another masterpiece and, as usual, he’s kept his circle small. The album is fully produced by Pirate’s regular collaborator E.l.e.m.n.t. and noted Italian producer Cuns. There are no features on this project because KTP felt the need to keep the spotlight firmly focused on himself this time around. The new LP is titled Family Jewels and is based on the Black Madonna and Jesus’ bloodline. Of course, the record is still that hardcore Street Hop fans have come to expect from Pirate, but it’s also a little deeper than that. The first leak from the album, “Oni Experience,” finds Knowledge utilizing a conversational flow to drop mad jewels about street life, while the second leak, “Red Beam,” is some genuine weight-moving music. Cop the vinyl from Tuff Kong Records out in Rome, Italy. Listen below...

April 21, 2020

J. Cole x The Neptunes "In Search Of... Cole" (Mixtape)

DJ Critical Hype returns after the major success of his phenomenal Kendrick Lamar & Dr. Dre blend tape, The DAMN. Chronic. This time, the project takes The Neptunes' beats and blends it with vocals from J. Cole, titled In Search Of Cole. Word is, Critical Hype was able to get the blessing of Dreamville's president Ibrahim Hamad, who shared unreleased copies of J. Cole's acapellas for the project. My first instinct was to leave this project to mainstream blogs, but I wanna be as transparent as possible - if I'm listening to it AND I enjoy it, I'll share my appreciation for a project. Blend tapes of this kind are a serious labor of love, and if nothing else, this post is to show respect to DJ Critical Hype for his excellent work! I respect The Neptunes' work, but it's not always my vibe.

April 20, 2020

The House List Podcast "DJ 7L's 2020 Quarantine Mix"

This past weekend the Hip-Hop community worldwide got a nice shot in the arm watching RZA and Premo trade joints as stars and fans alike vibed in quarantined unison. In this episode of The House List, Boston's highly respected, long established, DJ and producer 7L (Czarface, 7L & Esoteric) delivers an all vinyl, all Hip-Hop DJ mix in it's true form. A great companion piece for all y'all. He takes some classic yet lesser known tracks/white labels from the mid and late 90's and lays it down cassette tape mix style. This would be one of those joints never to leave your car stereo or walkman, with mad flavors from acts like The Beatnuts, Shades of Brooklyn, Scientifik, Ground Floor, The Legion and much more. This is a MUST listen for any head of any age, check it out below...

April 19, 2020

Nas "Illmatic" (26th Anniversary + Billboard 4/2/94)

"The BUZZ on Nas, the newest rapper on Columbia's roster, is big and growing bigger.... "Illmatic" is the name of Nas' debut album, which is starting to ripple through Planet Rap. It's a colorful blend of events and experiences ("life, death, triumph, woe") as seen through his eyes. Its honesty and passion are palpable through and through. The title, says Nas, "is the sound of the type o' shit I'm on." Nas' introduction to the world came via "Live At The BBQ," an acknowledged classic from Main Source's 1990 album "Breaking Atoms." He rhymed chorus-line style along Akinyele, Large Professor, and Joe Fatal. Next, in 1992, he dropped "Halftime," which was featured on the Zebrahead motion picture soundtrack. The same year, Nas recorded several songs with Large Professor, including "It Ain't Hard To Tell," the first single from "Illmatic," wherein he declares his status as da muhfuggin' man. He got signed to Columbia based on the strength of a demo. To complete the album, Nas collaborated with other production scientists. They are Pete Rock, L.E.S., DJ Premier, and Q-Tip." As they say, the rest is history! Illmatic is the single greatest solo album in Hip-Hop history, and it deserves all the praise it gets - especially on it's (26th) Anniversary. More below in the article from Havelock Nelson in Billboard (April 2, 1994), specifically about their fax campaigns, securing press and the original Nas t-shirts that were designed to attract the attention of tastemakers. Happy 26th!

In addition to references to Illmatic, the story below about the Bloody Week on Staten Island makes mention of U-God's son being shot in a crossfire, Guy Routte's brother being shot, and an associate of Shyheim and the Wu-Tang being shot and killed. Guy was Shyheim's manager at the time and has been managing Pharoahe Monch for many years - he's also one of the nicest guys in the whole industry. Shyheim's "AKA The Rugged Child" was released on this day in 1994 as well, and "Speaking of homicides as they relate to his hometown, Shyheim rhymes in "On And On," his debut single, "This happens everyday around my way, so I pray that I could live another day." Amen."

April 19, 2020

Gang Starr Appreciation Day (R.I.P. Guru, 10th Ann.)

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Guru's passing, and DJ Premier has declared it Gang Starr Appreciation Day! Premo did a live DJ set celebrating the legacy of Gang Starr - an ALL Guru set - on IG Live. In animated fashion, DJ Premier took to his tools - his instruments - the 1s and 2s, and in animated fashion, ran through classics, features, obscure B-sides and lots more, honoring the life of his partner in Gang Starr, Guru. What we're witnessing amidst all this madness is the true humanity behind our legends and that no matter how the system tries to devalue music and make it disposable, we are absolutely nothing without art. It's our lifeblood. It marks time and moments in our lives better than anything else. It what makes us keep coming back for more and why we hold our favorites at such high regard. We lost Guru in the physical, but the legend's legacy lives on! R.I.P. Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal... and thank you, DJ Premier - for all that you do! Updated with the live video/audio from Gang Starr Appreciation Day! Watch below (while it's still available).

April 19, 2020

DeeJay Bird "Beneath The Surface" (Mixtape, 1998)

Originally taken from Fifth Element/Rhymesayers' blog, here's a nice bit of background info on the mixtape, which sets up the video interview below that J-Bird did about his "Beneath The Surface" mixtape back in 1998. "Many of you might better know J-Bird for his role as the General Manager of the Rhymesayers label, including his many tours with Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Rubberoom, etc. However, throughout the 80s and 90s, he was also one of the top and most sought after DJs in the Lake County, IL area. He's also key, in that region, in helping raise the bar on what a mixtape could be and the influence eventually created ripple effects well beyond.... Back in '97 DeeJayBird approached me about assisting in the recording of his first official studio/retail mixtape, "Beneath The Surface." What ensued was countless hours of meticulous planning, endless recording, concept innovations, fantastic mistakes, and a broken Tascam 688 8 Track Recorder, resulting in starting from scratch. In the end, DeeJayBird delivered a very well constructed and influential mixtape. In this exclusive DeeJayBird interview we discuss his favorite mixtape DJs, how the tape was put together, the distribution, the artwork, hidden messages, how he gave special props to the DJ, and how "Beneath The Surface" was the first in a planned trilogy of mixtapes..." - Kevin Beacham.

Below is the video interview with J Bird, and just to give you an idea of what's on this mixtape, you'll hear records from Organized Konfusion, Kool DJ EQ, I.G. Off & Hazardous, Rakim, Non-Equation, Latyrx, Scienz Of Life, Stony Island, Peanut Butter Wolf, Defari, Tha Alkaholiks, The Beatnuts, No I.D. & Dug Infinite, Easter Conference, Atmosphere, Slug, Lord Sear, Prince Paul, Gang Starr, Rubberoom, All Natural, Molemen, E.C. Illa, Jurassic 5, MF Doom, Cage, Siah, Killah Priest, Sir Menelik, Godfather Don, Company Flow, Kool Keith, Common, O.C., Ill Advised, 7L & Esoteric, Hiero and so much more! Much thanks to J Bird and Kevin Beacham for all they contribute to the culture. Enjoy the content.

April 18, 2020

DJ Robert Smith "The Christopher Wallace Story" (Mixtape)

We are all finding out about character, adversity and resilience during this pandemic. Well, Biggie is speaking to me through the speakers on "Sky's The Limit" when he says, "If the game shakes me or breaks me, I hope it makes me a better man, take a better stand." It's time to reset and tackle this new normal. In the meantime, you need a soundtrack, right? Well, here's DJ Robert Smith's "The Christopher Wallace Story." The Berlin turntablist is definitely one of the best with scratches, cuts and mixes - here he blends a continuous mix of classic Biggie cuts, original samples and more. It was released some years back, but it's never late to honor the late great, Notorious B.I.G. / R.I.P. Biggie!

April 18, 2020

R.A. The Rugged Man "All My Heroes Are Dead" (Album Stream)

Nature Sounds put their foot in this album description, I can't say it more accurate than this: "R.A. The Rugged Man is one of the most fascinating figures in hip-hop history. The Rugged Man has been an up-and-coming star, an industry outcast banished and forgotten, an underground cult hero, an independent success story, and an influential master of the art form. He can obliterate rappers with ferocious battle rhymes, craft heartfelt personal songs fans can relate to, offend sensitive listeners with shocking vulgarity, challenge corrupt politicians and corporations, paint pictures with captivating storytelling, and deliver jaw-dropping flows that prove his lyrical skills are unmatched. Now, R.A. is back with All My Heroes Are Dead, a brand new album that stands as his best work to date. “So many of the greats are gone, and the legends who made it out alive are cast aside,” R.A. explains. “Society left our heroes and their culture for dead. We have to dig that greatness out of its grave, and bring it back with an angry vengeance.” The highly-anticipated album showcases the full scope of the Rugged Man’s considerable talent, making it a powerful statement from an unforgettable artist." These are sentiments I shared on his 2013 LP, Legends Never Die. He really showed me a lot on that project, so I'm very much looking forward to this follow-up. Listen below...

April 17, 2020

KLIM Beats "Snippets Of Life" (Instrumental Album)

KLIM beats has been one of the most active beat makers in the scene during the last ten years. He's been creating such a great and exciting discography. The new album is titled 'Snippets Of Life' with a vision to embrace all the listeners with warm soft rhythms and classic boombap-styled beats. There's 14 stunning beats composed by the man himself on the MPC 2000xl and Roland SP404 in Kiev, Ukraine. This is a Limited Edition 12" from Qrates, so grab a copy and check it out below...

April 17, 2020

Westside Gunn "Pray For Paris" (Album Stream)

Pray for Paris is the third studio album by Griselda rapper Westside Gunn, but his 25th (?) project. He started working on the album in Paris in January 2020, when he attended Paris Fashion Week. The experience of being in the city for the first time inspired Westside, and he wrote six songs in two separate three-hour sessions, three songs each day. Once he got back to US, he started thinking about features. The tracklist was revealed on April 1st, during an IG live with songs featuring Benny The Butcher, Joey Bada$$, Tyler The Creator, Wale, Conway The Machine, Freddie Gibbs, Roc Marciano, Boldy James, Keisha Plum and more. The production on Pray For Paris is handled by Daringer, DJ Muggs, Camo Monk, Alchemist, DJ Premier, Tyler The Creator, Beat Butcha, Jay Versace and Bohemia Lynch. Some fans may argue that the underground star has found room to maneuver in the mainstream with some of these features (Tyler The Creator/Wale), but it's still vintage Westside Gunn and Griselda Records. Listen to Pray For Paris below and cop the merch now before it officially sells out and the prices skyrocket on eBay. How much content can 1 man release?

April 16, 2020

Soul Supreme "Check The Rhime" b/w "Lyrics To Go"

Here are two new tracks by Amsterdam-based, Jerusalem-born keyboardist, DJ & producer Soul Supreme! The tracks are homages to iconic hip-hop tracks “Check The Rhime” & “Lyrics To Go” from a jazz perspective. “I want to take the listener on a trip to overlook tracks they know, but from a different perspective,” says Soul Supreme. “I try to go 'in and out' of the ATCQ tracks so the listener never knows what’s going to happen next. My overall goal is to give existing music my own twist. I don’t want to sound like a rehash of something listeners have heard before.” Soul Supreme's Jazz renditions of these timeless classics reflect the kind of improvisation that makes music so refreshing. These tracks are available on an exclusive 7" viny, order it HERE and enjoy!

April 15, 2020

1982 (Statik Selektah & Termanology) "The Quarantine"

1982 is Statik Selektah and Termanology. Their latest release, The Quarantine, was recorded in one day at Harley's House of Hits in Brooklyn. Statik Selektah flexes on the beats and Term on the bars with their 10-track offering, which features Kota The Friend, CJ Fly, Ufo Fev, Marlon Craft, Grafh, Haile Supreme, Nems, Lil' Fam of M.O.P., Tek, JFK and Allan Kingdom. Statik has been doing projects in this fashion since 2009 when he teamed up with Saigon for "All In A Day's Work." He's also been holding it down on IG Live, doing live DJ sets for fans, so make sure you're following HERE.

April 14, 2020

Mark 563 "Hip-Hop Coloring Book" (East Coast Edition)

After the overwhelmingly popular Hip Hop Coloring Book, Mark 563 is back with Hip Hop Coloring Book: East Coast Edition. It’s a fun activity book for kids and adults. The book features a selection of Mark 563’s own illustrative takes on some of Hip Hop’s most important figures – from early pioneers like Busy Bee, to 90s NYC profiles like Nine and newer stars like Cardi B – all ready to be colored in. The 50 pages are packed with illustrations of legendary East Coast rappers, spanning from the Golden Era through to today’s rap superstars. A perfect gift for anyone interested in Hip Hop and popular culture! Hip Hop Coloring Book: East Coast Edition is marker friendly! Use your favorite markers without the risk of ruining the illustration on the other side of the paper. Hip Hop Coloring Book: East Coast Edition is the latest in Dokument Press' popular coloring book series, with themes such as graffiti, skateboarding and low-riders. You can/should order your copy HERE!

April 13, 2020

Jamil Honesty "Lord Have Mercy" (Beat Tape)

This is Jamil Honesty aka Macbeats' latest beat tape entitled "Lord Have Mercy." The Staten Island born MC/producer has been out in Baltimore, MD since he was a teenager. He's been putting in a lot of work in the last few years. His "Verses" mixtape (in the archives) was a dope project that'll get you caught up on some of his previous work. As a producer, he's bringing hard drums and raw grit; giving me some Detroit vibes with this latest beat tape! Drop a prayers hands emoji to this one...

April 13, 2020

J.Period "Holla If Ya Hear Me" (A 2Pac Mixtape)

Much love to J.Period for putting together this emotional and heartfelt tribute to 2Pac with his latest mixtape, Holla If Ya Hear Me. Piecing together interviews from 2Pac alongside expertly blended remixes and classic cuts, this 38-track mixtape celebrates the life of 2Pac, and gives us cause to reflect on what could've been had we not lost him to senseless violence. That said, it's appropriate to share 2Pac in his own words: "Don't support the phonies, support the real. How can these people talk about how real they are and they don't care about our communities? They talk about I'm this and I'm that, but they don't give a sh!t about the community. Listen to the words that people say in their lyrics and tell me if that's some real real sh!t, if that's real to you? Listen to what they're saying. Don't just bob your head to the beat, peep the game. And listen to what I'm saying and hold us accountable for it." Amen. Rest In Peace, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Afeni Shakur. 

April 12, 2020

DJ Premier vs. The RZA "Beat Battle" (4/11/20)

April 11, 2020: DJ Premier vs. The RZA will go down as one of the most historic beat battles / virtual events ever! DJ Premier and The RZA went track for track for 2.5 hours, live on Instagram in front of a total of 849,056 people! The RZA put his best foot forward with multiple tracks from his iconic group Wu-Tang Clan, as well as solo efforts by Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.), Raekwon, GZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Kanye West, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and more. DJ Premier - who y'all KNOW I consider to be the G.O.A.T. - hit back with cuts by Gang Starr, Nas, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Jeru The Damaja, D'Angelo, Group Home, Mos Def, Royce Da 5'9, M.O.P., Big L, KRS-One, and Das EFX. RZA and Premo shared stories/history on various tracks; bits about their cultural relevance and the personal impact these records had on both of them. That was undoubtedly a common thread that connected every fan that was tuning in around the world. There were close to 100K people tuned in just within the first 90 seconds of the battle! Artists like LL Cool J, Swizz Beatz, Nas, DJ Rhettmatic, Apathy, Method Man, Redman, DJ Eclipse, DJ Riz, Jay Electronica, Questlove, Shaq, DJ Numark, Killer Mike, Black Thought, Alchemist, Evidence, and so many others it's hard to list them all. With all the pain and loss going on around the world, this was a brief reprieve, where the bulk of the Hip-Hop community got together (social distancing) and collectively exhaled all our stress, and just enjoyed some great music. In the end, Hip-Hop won! Props to StrictlyCassette for these dope flyers, they are the icing on the cake. Here's the Playlist, dig in! 

April 11, 2020

Black Thought "Tiny Desk Concert" (NPR, Video)

April 8, 2020 | Abby O'Neill -- While our culture adjusts to the New Normal, artists are revealing the threads of our common humanity as they find new ways to bring their work to virtual communities. In this installment of Tiny Desk (home) Concerts, hip-hop wordsmith Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought of The Roots crew, took the occasion to premiere three new songs. On "Thought Vs. Everybody," Thought calls for unity in response to the conditions of an encroaching dystopia. Next up is "Yellow," a song from his upcoming off-Broadway musical Black No More, an adaption of the 1931 Afrofuturist novel by George S. Schuyler, set during the Harlem Renaissance. The track is co-written with Anthony Tidd. He closes with "Nature of the Beast," a cross-genre collaboration with alternative music sweethearts Portugal. The Man, who pop up on screen from a remote location. "Thought Vs. Everybody" and "Nature of the Beast" are produced by Sean C and will appear on Streams of Thought Vol. 3, which will be released as an EP. The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. It's the same spirit - stripped-down sets, an intimate setting - just a different space. - NPR. Much love to Black Thought holdin' it down for the culture, watch below!

April 10, 2020

ATCQ "People's Instinctive Travels..." (30th Anniversary)

On April 10th, 1990, A Tribe Called Quest released their iconic debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and The Paths Of Rhythm. Hip-Hop journalist and historian Dart Adams wrote a really great article on the legacy of Tribe's debut for OkayPlayer, here's a excerpt: "Jarobi White’s narration turned a bunch of random songs into a full body of work. It was an album reminiscent of the jazz, funk, and soul LPs from the late ’60s to the mid ’70s that I was digging through at record stores around this time. The production especially stood out to me. The sequencing of tracks and the way it flowed took a 14-year-old me on another ride beside the one I was already on. I felt like A Tribe Called Quest was consciously taking the listener along with them on their travels, while I was going through my own quest trying to discover myself. Listening to the album for the first time was one of those moments where I placed a mental bookmark on what an album could and should sound and feel like going forward." Please read the full article at OkayPlayer, and below is a video from 2018 of Scarface breaking down the significance of Tribe's debut and why the LP was so inspirational to him. Dig into the tags/labels below for a ton of content on various Tribe releases (solo and as a group).

April 10, 2020

Q-Tip x Pete Rock "Return Of The Abstract" (Mixed by Filthy Rich)

Happy Born Day to Kamaal the Abstract aka Q-Tip! DJ Filthy Rich dropped off a brand new blend tape to celebrate Q-Tip's 50th birthday today, and had this to say: "Q-Tip's music has always been a huge influence in my life, so it's an honor to work with his team to present this surprise bday gift to him. I always wanted to hear a full collab with Q-Tip on the mic and Pete Rock on the boards, so I decided to make it myself. I took Q-Tip's vocal's from the 'Amplified' album, and blended them with Pete's fire 'Return Of The SP1200' instrumental LP." The result is something dope! Listen below...

April 09, 2020

Chino XL "Here To Save You All" (The Source + '96 Sampler)

"Public Enemy first posed the question: "Why are you so hostile?" The answer gave voice to arguably the foremost emotion underscoring hip-hop, the confrontational. Since then, nearly every MC to have picked up a mic has employed infinite rhyme and reason in trying to build on that sentiment. Unfortunately, the expression has, for the most part, been diluted. Simply put, too much of hip-hop's rage has grown tired and impotent. These days it is the rare artist that infuses new energy into hip-hop's most tried and true well-spring. Chino XL is such an artist. Get ready to throw down props for his debut, Here To Save You All. First and foremost, Chino can rhyme. Last year, two of his unreleased songs - "No Complex" and a collaboration with Ras Kass called "Riiott!" - circulated throughout the underground, popping up on The Source's "Fat Tape" and on hip-hop radio across the country. The full album proves neither joint was a fluke. The 16 tracks on Here To Save You All are a densely-packed, tightly-wound, searing, non-stop verbal assault on everyone and everything." Check out Chino XL's album sampler mix to "Here To Save You All," cont'd below...

"Chino takes the venerable practice of reworking pop culture and current event references into hip-hop contexts to a new level: O.J., Eazy E, the U.S. Invasion of Haiti, Woody Harrelson, teen pregnancy, Heidi Fleiss, Darryl Strawberry, welfare reform, even his own label - "My company (Rick Rubin's American Recordings) is fuckin' me like Arsenio does Eddie Murphy." You name it, they all get done. Still, what is perhaps most impressive about Here To Save You All is the fact that it's a record with equal amounts style and substance. Listen closely and you'll pick up more than laugh-out-loud jokes and disses. "No Complex" takes on the insipid materialism of much of today's hip-hop: "What I Am?" deals with growing up as a child of mixed ethnicity; and "Ghetto Vampire" and "Rise" delve into complex political and spiritual territory. The beats don't miss either. The album's production is laced with an intricate, Wu Tang-like flava. Although Chino is an East Orange, NJ native, a good portion of Here To Save You All was recorded in LA and the record successfully incorporates elements of both coasts' sounds. Here To Save You All is solid, dynamic and refreshing. It's both good and good fo ya." - The Source, May, 1996. The album was released on this day in 1996. Much respect to Chino XL!